From my perspective, the desire to embrace a minimalist mindset and that need to pare down and de-clutter contains an underlying theme of our deeper need for having boundaries when it comes to our belongings and the physical spaces we inhabit.
There can be so much underlying emotion that connects us to our “stuff” and this needs our acknowledgement, time and attention as well. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, a very simple starting point can be to revamp your internal rules for what can and can not enter into your physical space.
De-cluttering in one fell swoop without considering whether we have internal rules for what we will allow into our physical space can lead to a repeat formation of the same piles fairly quickly.
If you’ve been finding that you have an overflow of “stuff” you don’t need or want, one reason could be that you haven’t defined a clear constraint around how much you can keep or bring into a very specific space in your home.
As an example, if your bedroom closet feels cluttered and overwhelming, you can create a clear constraint specific to this space. An example rule could be that you will only bring one new garment into this space if you donate 5 garments and that the new garment only deserves that space in your closet if it is a necessary essential that expands your ability to use the rest of your wardrobe in different ways.
Your new constraints should ideally be rules you create for yourself that are unique to each specific physical space in your home and they should be ones that are sustainable and truly work for you.
Another creative and purposeful way to look at this is to ask yourself the question – what is my goal for that specific space in my home?
Zoom out to look at your big picture goal in terms of both the aesthetic and function for that space and then take the time to focus in on the details.
If you’re looking at a desk with piles on it as you ask yourself this question, maybe your answer is that you want a serene working space with a minimalist aesthetic and plants to connect you to nature. Functionally, you may want everything you need accessible within arm’s reach but tucked away in drawers or containers that add to that aesthetic.
Envision exactly what you want for that space and let that be a working boundary.
A second question to ask is – have I outgrown this space?
You may have a perfectly de-cluttered space that doesn’t match your current needs. You may still be purchasing things based on what your needs used to be. As an example, if you’ve switched from a working outside the home to working in the home, you may need to reconfigure and streamline your work space at home so it is more functional for a work day and de-clutter anything that is non-essential and detracts from your ability to focus.
If piles start to accumulate, go back to the vision of exactly how you want to use that space and how you want it to look and feel, then de-clutter accordingly. Remove what you don’t need for that space to align with your vision, put what you do need within arm’s reach and organize in a way that matches the aesthetic you love.
What are your things saying to you about your boundaries pertaining to your “stuff”? Do you need to create new ones?